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Easter Rejoice: Revealing Hope in the Risen Christ

Happy Easter! Jesus lives! The tomb is empty! Rejoice and be glad! Today’s Easter blog was originally written to be preached on Easter at Christ Greenfield Lutheran Church in Gilbert, Arizona. We pray it strengthens your faith in the risen Christ. 

Luke 24:28-35

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Hallelujah! 

Hope is not hidden. Hope is revealed in the person of the risen Jesus! According to the resurrection account of Luke 24, Jesus wants to reveal Himself to us in four ways. Much of the inspiration for this blog comes from the book Discernment, written by one of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen. 

The first way the risen Jesus wants to reveal Himself to us is through…

1. Interpreting Scripture

Jesus meets us in our disappointment, our pain, our unbelief. Cleopas is the only disciple that is named. The other disciple is left unnamed. Some think it was possibly Cleopas’ son, but we don’t know. Many early church fathers said the other disciple is left unnamed so that we would take the place of the other disciple Jesus meets on the road. Today, we are inviting you to take the point of view of the unnamed disciple. 

In the story, the disciples are leaving Jerusalem. Their disbelief in what the women had said is leading them away from Jerusalem. Jesus meets them on the road of unbelief and asks a simple question, “What are you talking about?” Jesus wants a relationship. He wants to enter into their disappointment, pain, and unbelief. 

Life leaves us with wounded memories. How are we healed of our wounded memories? We are healed first of all by letting them be available, by leading them out of the corner of forgetfulness, and by remembering them as part of our life stories. What is forgotten is unavailable. And what is unavailable, cannot be healed. That which is remembered can be healed. 

By lifting our painful forgotten memories out of the egocentric, individualistic, private sphere, Jesus Christ heals our pains. He connects them with the pain of all humanity, a pain he took upon Himself and transformed. To heal does not primarily mean to take pains away. Rather, Jesus reveals that our pains are part of a great pain, our sorrows part of a great sorrow, our experience part of the great experience of Him who said, “But was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into the Glory of God?” This is what it means to daily pick up our cross and follow the One who bore the cross for us. 

Jesus wants to be invited on the road of your life. Jesus waits for an invitation to truly open up the eyes of our faith. He doesn’t force Himself on us. He is too kind. God’s love is stronger than our despair. God’s faithfulness reaches beyond the experience of Divine absence. God’s presence fills our hearts with hope and joy.

How does Jesus reveal Himself? Jesus interprets Scripture–clarifying that all of Scripture was pointing to the suffering Lamb of God whose blood would cover all sin. He interpreted Scripture to show death as the ultimate enemy, an enemy put to death through Jesus’ bodily resurrection. Jesus interprets the Scripture to show them that what depresses them the most–the suffering and death of a friend they hoped to be the Messiah–has become the source of new life. 

It is important to remember that interpreting Scripture is best done with others. Just reading by yourself does not allow you to fully enter into the mystery of Christ’s promise to be present where two or more are gathered together. 

The second way of the risen Jesus is found through…

2. Staying – You want Jesus to abide near you. 

Place yourself in the story. The unnamed man is giving you hope connected to the Scriptures, but then Jesus acts like he is going farther. Something deep within your soul says, “No. We need more. We need you to stay with us!” Jesus accepts their invitation. 

The Holy Spirit is speaking to your soul, “You must stay connected to Him–like a branch connected to the vine. You can’t bear anything good unless you’re abiding with the Word made flesh, who alone can interpret Scripture for us!” 

Hope is not hidden.

Yet, in the story they have still not realized who is speaking to them. This leads to the third way Jesus wants to reveal Himself to us, through…

3. The Breaking of Bread – Jesus met the disciples through deep fellowship– deep intimacy with God. 

The meal was so simple, so ordinary…and still so different. Jesus reveals His presence in the breaking of the bread. Their eyes were opened. They were dining with the risen Jesus!

Here is the audacity of faith. The same Jesus wants to commune with us consistently, giving us His very body and blood to eat and to drink. That is what the Eucharist is–the great banquet of thanksgiving where we celebrate the presence of Christ and all He gives–forgiveness, life, and salvation. 

Hope is not hidden. 

Finally, when Jesus reveals Himself we…

4. Remember Jesus with burning hearts 

Jesus disappears. The disciples no longer need His physical presence to know that He remains with them. Their hearts were burning with faith. Therefore, late on that resurrection Sunday, the disciples run the seven miles back to Jerusalem, break into the upper room and let the scared disciples know, “We have seen the Lord. The women were correct! He was known to us in the breaking of bread!”

Are your hearts burning with faith? By faith, the risen Jesus actually now dwells within you–within us! What a mystery. What a gift! Jesus is a friend who goes with us. We’ve heard His Word, stayed with Him, dined with Him, and now we’re sent with burning hearts filled with love and light! We carry the message: “Hope is not hidden. Christ is risen!”

Some may wonder, “Why does the church gather weekly for worship?” We forget. We need help remembering. In our crazy world, hope seems hidden. Here is one of the heart-opening takeaways from Luke 24. The four movements of Jesus on the Road to Emmaus–interpreting Scripture, staying/abiding, the Breaking of Bread, and hearts burning with faith sent into the world–make up the entirety of what we do when we gather for weekly worship. We also have the invitation to practice these four movements every day on our journey through pain, suffering, and disappointment…to hope. 

Hope is not hidden.


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